AuthorIAm David L. Craddock, author of "Rocket Jump," a book about the making of Quake and the origin of first-person shooters. AMA!
Feb 16th 2018 by dlcraddock • 5 Questions • 49 Points
EDIT 1: Thanks for all the great questions so far! I'll be around until 7pm ET to answer more. If you're curious about Rocket Jump, check out the links below.EDIT 2: Thank you again for a fun session, Reddit. Feel free to take a look at the book using the links at the bottom of the post.
Hi, Reddit. My name is David L. Craddock, and I'm the author of the book Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters. AMA about Quake, id Software, and FPS games from the 1990s!
Here's proof that IAm who I say IAm.
Rocket Jump is a spiritual successor of sorts to Masters of Doom, David Kushner's excellent biography of id Software's team and early years, and a book that had a huge influence on my writing. I wrote Rocket Jump through a combination of research and firsthand interviews with Quake developers such as John Carmack, John Romero, Tim Willits, American McGee, Jennell Jaquays, Sandy Petersen, Graeme Devine, and many others. The book concentrates on the Quake franchise as well as other foundational FPS titles from the '90s including Half-Life, Duke Nukem 3D, Rise of the Triad, and Star Wars: Dark Forces.
I published Rocket Jump on Shacknews.com in December 2017, and as of this morning it's available for pre-order on Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher and platform. Unbound will be publishing the book in hardcover and in digital formats, with an estimated release date of spring/summer 2019.
I learned a ton about id's internal processes and culture while writing Rocket Jump, so I thought I'd pop in to answer questions about what I learned researching id Software, my writing process, the book's contents, and chat about our favorite first-person shooters. I'll be around starting at 5pm ET / 2pm PT.
-Rocket Jump on Shacknews.com
-Pre-order Rocket Jump in hardcover/digital formats on Unbound
-More of my books (Stay Awhile and Listen, Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution, Heritage: Book One of the Gairden Chronicles, Dungeon Hacks, and more)
Great question! I love FPS games. I grew up playing NES games, but Wolfenstein 3D was the game that opened my eyes to PC gaming. I discovered Wolf3D from, of all places, a medical transcription class my mom was taking. When I was sick, I was too young to stay home alone, so I went with my mom to class. Her teacher was this big, deep-voiced woman named Sally. She'd sit at the front of the class while my mom and the other students transcribed reports or studied medical terminology. I'd sit at a desk in the back and do homework... and read issues of Nintendo Power.
One day Sally motioned me up to her desk. I thought she'd want to show me a word processor or something. Instead, I found her cackling and mowing down Nazis in Wolfenstein. I was amazed. I'd never seen a game move that fast, or gameplay that violent. Sally gave me the disks for the shareware episode. I installed them on the 386 machine my uncle had made for me a year or so earlier and played incessantly. When I got my Sound Blaster 16, I cranked the volume and was blown away by the Nazi guards' shouts and the roar of the chaingun.
I discovered Doom from an even more incongruous source: church. During Sunday school one morning, my friend Aaron and I sat in the back so he could tell me all about this game called Doom. When I realized the Wolfenstein 3D people made it, I knew I had to try it. I got the shareware version from Carnation Computer, a local computer store ran by my friend's dad. Once again: hooked. I figured God wouldn't mind me playing this violent game because even though I was going to hell, I was there to kill demons. I was helping.
Quake came out when my friends and I were freshmen in high school. The morning I learned the game took up 80 MEGABYTES OF SPACE, I ran to my friend's home room so we could figure out how the hell we'd possibly clear that much space on our computers.
As more shooters released, each seemed more creative than the last. Duke Nukem 3D, Half-Life, Unreal, more Quake games. All they shared in common were a few standard weapons like shotguns and chainguns. Everything else felt so unique: engines, color palettes, speeds, strategies, weapons, level design. There was so much creativity, so many different types of shooters.
I've wanted to write a book like ROCKET JUMP for years, purely for the opportunity to talk to John Romero, John Carmack, and the other designers who made my favorite games.